Thursday, July 8, 2010


Good morning, everyone.  Seems the weather is breaking...or trying to, but for how long?  They are already predicting that  we are going back up into the 90's on Monday.  Please don't let the entire summer be like this.  

The other day I was reading a blog about changes...about our changing things are now and how they used to be. How different the world was in the 60's, the 70's.  Then, later in the night as I was looking something up in one of my old astrology books, and I happened to glance at the publisher...Samuel Weiser...a name I see often, but haven't thought about, yet,  today with my thoughts already on the past, I found myself drifting back to a different time...the time of my youth...of leaving behind the small-town country girl to find myself in the big city.

Samuel Weiser was a part of that.  I was already interested in the occult and 'New Age' practices when I left New Jersey, and in the 1970's, New York City was indeed a hubbub of pagan activity.  The hippies were slowly dying out, but there was enough of them left in the East Village that I don't feel I missed out on anything. I really was NEVER one of your true hippies, but I did so love the clothing...and the freedom of their lifestyle.   Washington Square Park (featured above) was the hip place to be. It was a haven for eccentricity.   Even today it is at the center of Village life. Saturday Night Live premiered in 1975, and I was already familiar with many of the players...having seen them get their start performing sketches in the park. 

One of the first places I found when I moved into the city was a little bookstore called WEISER'S Book Shop.  In the early 1970's, it was the largest bookstore of its kind.  Anyone who was interested in reading about or practicing any of the occult arts could be found frequenting Weiser's. The staff was so knowledgeable and always took time to assist you. 

Another of my favorite haunts was Mason's Bookshop, a little upstairs bookstore run by astrologer, Zoltan Mason.  I can still hear the creeky stairs as you ascended to the second floor and entered into a dark, sort of moldy smelling room. Book shelves lined the store walls from floor to ceiling.  Zoltan could be found sitting at a desk filled with papers, books, and lots of other little things.  Zoltan offered classes in astrology, but by the time I started shopping there, I already knew the basics...and despite my not being a student, I remember he always had time to answer my questions. He was such a great man... and a great astrologer who appeared on American radio and television and even had been invited by the Canadian government to appear on their television.  I learned so much from hat man.

And who can ever forget the Magickal Childe...the last great occult shop of New York City...a place filled with such tremendous energy.  They sold herbs, candles, oils, robes, and also carried a modest array of books. One could also find swords, human skulls, and a wide variety of jewelry.  There was a room in the back that served as a temple and a classroom for Wiccans who were gravitating to the store. The owner of the store, Herman Slater, belonged to a coven that practiced a Welsh tradition of witchcraft, and eventually he became the high priest of the coven. 

Those little shops are gone now; they belong to a bygone era.  Today we have our "East West Books" which is a great store, but there was something special about the atmosphere of those little shops of the 1970's.  Washington Square Park no longer stays open 24 hours a day; crime has put a stop to that.  You know, writing about this brings goosebumps to my arms and tears to my eyes.  Such a special part of the past...gone, but never forgotten. That was the time I left the country bumpkin behind and became a city gal.  That was the time I  was a part of...a part of something new...a part of the newly reborn era of the Pagan.

The following is Washington Square Park as I remember it...a special place with special people


  1. Ah...the Magickal Childe...I loved that store. I was sad to hear they had closed. I was about 15 or so...1985/86, and my mom and I were walking around in the Village. We happened passed the store and I stopped in my tracks. I felt so drawn to the store, I told my mom "I HAD TO" go in there. I was fascinated with all the things they had there...I felt sorta at home in there store even though I had no idea about any thing they sold. But that was the first time I was drawn to the Pagan Path, which was right out side that store. After that, I was only able to go back 2 or 3 times before I moved to FL. I wish I had taken the time back then to really explore and get to know the store better.

  2. So nice to sift through our memories. The neat ones, of course. ,-)

  3. Oh Mary you are so right! There is nothing like those "tiny holes in the wall" full of dusty books. Magical labyrinths to explore. I must be getting old because those mega stores so plush and vast don't speak to me at all! Anyway, let's hope this summer is not a scorcher so we can all enjoy it. Hope you have a nice cool evening XO

  4. I use to love shopping in Key West at all of the small old shops. They were great and the people that worked in them were so friendly, they knew their stuff. Now it is more on line shopping for me. Don't care for the big chain stores.


  5. Thanks so much for the memory post, for evoking Weiser's Bookshop, and for posting a picture I haven't seen before. Donald Weiser, founder Sam Weiser's son, in addition to running the bookshop, began publishing esoteric, occult, pagan, alternative living books, and that tradition continues today. Alas it's not a bookstore, where we can go and see what jumps off the shelf, but you can visit our website and browse the Weiser books. (It's I didn't live in NY during the time you mention. I was in Minneapolis, where I was in a women's group with Patricia Monaghan--who first introduced me to the Triple Goddess. Later I actually got to publish books on the goddess, and so much more, and now I feel it's our calling to carry on and make sure the work of many traditions survives. Thanks for your part in all this. Jan Johnson, Publisher, Weiser Books